The misogyny around breastfeeding is generally shifting to becoming socially unacceptable. We understand that babies need food to grow and that they’re hungry when it suits them, not when it’s convenient. We also understand that women don’t exist solely as sexualized objects. Nor do they exist exclusively for the visual pleasure of men. Surprisingly, they are people.

For all of these reasons, it seems we’ve realized two important things. Women should be supported when publicly breastfeeding. People who harass women while feeding should be stopped.

Instead of focusing on the obvious fact that women should be left alone and permitted to feed their babies in peace, let’s turn our attention to all of the benefits of breastfeeding. Learning many of these benefits was news to me, how many do you already know?

Diseases and illnesses

There is a myriad of diseases and illnesses that breastfeeding helps reduce exposure to. For babies, their likelihood of diarrhea, pneumonia, ear infection, Haemophilus influenza, meningitis, and urinary tract infection is reduced compared to babies who are not fed breast milk.

It also reduces a baby’s risk of certain diseases later in life. For instance, type I diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

Infants who are breastfed are more likely to have lower mean blood pressure and total serum cholesterol. Breastfeeding in infancy is also associated with a lower prevalence of type-2 diabetes overweight, and obesity during adolescence and adult life.

Additional health benefits

Breastfeeding is also beneficial for other health reasons such as boosting the child’s immune system. It also promotes sensory and cognitive development. And reduces the maternal risk of osteoporosis.

Nursing helps reduce maternal risk of post-partum depression, post-partum hemorrhage, heart disease, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.

Other perks

Interestingly, the brain uses 20% of the body’s energy, which seems like a lot. But breast milk uses even more energy, 25%. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster and lowering overall postpartum blood loss.

There seems to be a negative correlation between wealth and rates of breastfeeding. This really makes you think about why the rates of breastfeeding are relatively low in America.

The Next Step

Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Sadly, some people don’t have the choice one way or the other. For others, breastfeeding is simply too difficult. And for some, they just don’t want to breastfeed. I’m not looking to sway anyone or make them feel guilty if they choose not to breastfeed. Bodily autonomy is a human right.

I’d love to know…

What has been the greatest benefit to you about breastfeeding?